Last time I wrote a post filled with real-life absolutely true success stories about friends of mine and former colleagues who had gotten new jobs, some of them in very creative ways but others by using tried-and-true strategies. Today I am going to write about the dreaded job interview. As with the success stories, these tips are based on true stories, but many are also common strategies for handling interviews.
Experience: Getting Back on the Horse
I have had three serious interviews recently, two on the phone and one in person, and I was shocked at how nervous I was. I talked too fast and too loud, and one of my worst old habits (talking over the other person and not letting them finish their sentences) was back, after I had worked so hard to cure this fault. The only remedy is to do interviews, even if you are simply role playing with friends or family.
I have interviewed customers all over the world for two decades, but I quickly realized that there is a huge difference between being the interviewer and being the person in the hot seat (aka the interviewee).
I worked for an unscrupulous manager once who simply invited people in for interviews because she wanted to pick their brains about the company they worked for, current “hot” skills, or the job market. I was shocked when she openly admitted this to me, but it does happen. I have a cousin in a “glamour” industry who often goes on interviews in Manhattan only because the interviewer wants to expense lunch. Although this can be discouraging, it is also great practice.
Why Aren’t You Working?
Having a solid reason for losing your job is critical because you will be asked. Since many severance agreements prevent you from detailing the company’s true situation, it is best to come up with something positive even if it was obvious the company was not doing well. For example, you wanted to help launch a great new product line, or you wanted experience with a new strategy (such as social media, content marketing, or marketing automation software) or a new technology.
Yes, you could cite public press releases about financial reorganizations or quote low stock prices, but these are negatives, and make you seem foolish for having stayed as long as you did.
LinkedIn has made networking easy and fun, and something you can do anytime. Sending emails, even when you are writing to former colleagues in a company you have recently left, can easily land you in the spam filter if you are using your private address or a Gmail account. LinkedIn connections and emails always seem to get through.
Interview the Interviewer
Although this is very difficult to do if you have not interviewed in awhile, it is critical for you to ask yourself if you really want to work for the person who is interviewing you and how the company atmosphere impresses you during the interview.
A company website is a marketing vehicle (I should know!), but it is worth your time because you can pick up information about new products, initiatives, and possibly mutual customers that you can bring up during the interview. The interviewer can’t help but be impressed.